MS readies compliance kit for Web services

Looking to drive industry adoption of its Web services standards proposals, Microsoft Corp. plans to announce availability of a software development kit featuring its own specifications.

The Microsoft Web Services Development Kit (WSDK), to be available in a beta version Monday, will function with the company’s Visual Studio .Net development platform. The free download will provide support for three Microsoft-driven specifications that the company wants adopted as industry standards: WS-Security, WS-Attachments, and WS-Routing.

“It’s a set of tools that allows Visual Studio and .Net Framework developers to take advantage of the latest Web services specifications,” said Steven VanRoekel, Microsoft director of Web services marketing, in Redmond, Wash. Promotion of interoperable e-business is a key goal of Microsoft’s Web services standards efforts, VanRoekel said.

A final kit is to be available in approximately two months, followed by periodic updates as new industry standards and specifications emerge, according to VanRoekel. But don’t look for standards efforts from rival Sun Microsystems, such as the Web Services Choreography Interface (WSCI) submitted to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), to be supported in the kit, VanRoekel said.

“I would anticipate that we would not put that in our kit,” since WSCI does not fit in with the specifications Microsoft has designed, said VanRoekel.

“All these specifications are built to work together, in such we will only put in specifications that are factored to work together,” he said. VanRoekel added he hopes Sun joins in supporting the specifications, such as it has with the WS-Security effort.

An analyst defended Microsoft’s plan to pursue its own proposals as standards and not accommodate Sun’s.

“I don’t think [Microsoft is] necessarily trying to drive [its own specifications],” said John Meyer, senior analyst at Giga Information Group, in Washington, D.C.

“Unlike Java, where Sun still has a pretty good controlling interest in what happens, Sun is not in the driver’s seat,” when it comes to Web services standards, Meyer said.

“I don’t think [Microsoft’s effort] is specifically to slight Sun, but I think the normal evolution of standards in the industry is there are companies that will gather to push the other guy out,” said Meyer.

“IBM and Microsoft specifications have a lot more momentum” than Sun’s, Meyer said. IBM participated in development of the WS-Security and WS-Routing specifications supported in the kit.

WS-Security is intended to enable secure passing of SOAP messages. WS-Routing supports routing of messages through intermediaries, such as passing an order for a part directly to a vendor. WS-Attachments enables binary attachments, such as a picture, to be attached to a SOAP message.

Meyer applauded the security specification. “I think it’s a very good first stroke,” in providing the ability to incorporate security into Web services applications, he said.

WS-Security has been submitted to Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) while WS-Attachments was sent to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). WS-Routing has not been submitted to a standards body. These three have been included in the kit because they are the most mature of Microsoft’s specifications, according to Meyer.

Future versions of the kit might add specifications such as: BPEL4WS (business process execution language for Web services), which is intended to ensure that differing business processes can understand each other in a Web services environment; WS-Transaction, for transactional applications; and WS-Coordination, for Web services coordination.

Microsoft, IBM, and BEA earlier this month unveiled these three proposals but has yet to submit them to a standards body. Sun has said BPEL4WS is similar to the WSCI proposal that predated it.